Although the Indian Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) industry is maturing and becoming more globally accepted, there are lingering concerns about the potential risks involved in offshoring certain legal work to and sharing sensitive legal information with an LPO provider. Among the most common concerns are:
• Security and confidentiality
• Ethical implications
• Client/outside counsel relationship
In response to the issues raised by the legal community, many Indian LPO providers today have taken definitive steps assuage concerns and mitigate risk. Here is a round-up of some of the successful solutions that LPO providers have developed:
Because of security and confidentiality issues, many General Counsels (GCs) are reluctant to transfer data to LPO providers, particularly those off-shore such as in India. In order to address security and confidentiality concerns, many LPO providers have implemented globally recognized processes and certifications, such as Six Sigma, ISO 27001, and ISO 9001. Additionally, some LPO providers are training their staff directly on specific legal engagements, and involving corporate legal personnel to lead some of these training efforts.
Corporate legal departments have feared that work performed remotely will not meet their organization’s quality standards. However, LPO providers have been able to successfully leverage the expertise and skills acquired in the longstanding business process and information technology outsourcing markets to create metrics that can be applied to the LPO world. These procedures help LPOs and GCs alike to monitor and assess the quality of the legal work being provided. Subsequently, performance metrics are playing a role in the development of service level agreements that hold an LPO to a particular standard of quality.
Legal community collaboration and education
The unauthorized practice of law is one of the major concerns for U.S. GCs when considering the LPO model. But, the LPO industry at large has collaborated with the American Bar Association (ABA) to clarify the role of LPO services in legal work and to delineate an LPO provider’s responsibilities in that schematic. In parallel with these efforts, the ABA has developed guidelines for engaging an LPO provider. LPO providers are working to educate the legal community on the benefits of the LPO model for inside and outside counsel. As a result, better oversight strategies are being developed that enhance the entire LPO system.
Hybrid onshore/offshore models
For a long time, the term “off-shoring” had a negative connotation, particularly for lawyers in US law firms and corporate legal departments who feared job loss. To overcome these negative perceptions, many LPOs are now offering combined onshore/offshore solutions to clients. Also, some Indian LPOs have expanded their operations in relatively low-wage “near-shore” locations so that work can be performed closer to a client’s headquarters but still at a competitive price.
The LPO industry continues to evolve, but there is no reason to avoid the discussion today. Strategic use of LPO providers has already proven to lower legal costs without sacrificing quality.
Source@ Global Outsourcing Association of Lawyers (GOAL)
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The Global Outsourcing Association of Lawyers (GOAL) is the world’s first membership-based, non-political international organization for the legal outsourcing industry. Founded and mentored by global legal and outsourcing experts, GOAL’s mission is to promote the welfare, interests, education, and professional development of all parties involved in today’s legal process outsourcing (LPO) industry.
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